The Great Divide continues to grow
President Barack Obama may have entered the White House with hopes of closing the great partisan divide in this country, but it isn’t occurring so far.
According to a study released last week by the Pew Research Center, the difference in Obama’s approval ratings among Democrats and Republicans is a massive 61 percent, the widest difference for a new president in the modern era. Among Democrats, 88 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, while only 27 percent of Republicans do.
In contrast, in April of 2001, during President George W. Bush’s first few months in office, the partisan divide was 51 percent — with 87 percent of Republicans approving of the job Bush was then doing, and 36 percent of Democrats. Clearly, the number of Democrats who viewed
Bush favorably fell significantly by the time he left office, but initially, many gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The Obama numbers appear to reflect a widening partisan dispute, no matter who resides in the White House. Since Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, when a majority of people in the opposition parties gave the new presidents positive approval ratings in their first few months, favorable ratings from members of the opposition party have been steadily declining.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush each received the support of 41 percent of Democrats shortly after their inaugurations. President Bill Clinton had the support of only 26 percent of Republicans.
The increasing rancor among members of the two major parties doesn’t bode well for the ability to reach bipartisan solutions to complex problems, no matter who is in the White House.